Holy crossover, Batman! The rest of Mortal Kombat 11’s first round of character DLC has been revealed. It includes series regular Sindel before going off the rails with the Terminator, Spawn, and a dapper-looking Joker.
A YouTube video this morning outlined the rest of the cast for Mortal Kombat 11’s “Kombat Pack.” Many of these match up to a leak that was revealed some time ago. The first two characters, the evil Shang Tsung and stalwart Nightwolf, have already released, but now we know when everyone else is coming to join in the (ugh) kombat.
The Terminator T-800 arrives on October 8; evil Outworld queen Sindel screams into action on November 26; a kinda handsome (?) version of the Joker will arrive on January 28; and Todd McFarlane’s hyper-edgy hero Spawn rounds everything out on March 17. Apparently he got tired of being the dumbest character in Soul Calibur.
Netherrealm fighting games are renown for quirky bonus characters. Mortal Kombat 10 included the serial killer Jason Voorhees and the gosh darn Predator. Presumably we’ll see a similar mix of Mortal Kombat and “real” characters in whatever Kombat Pack follows this. My most outrageous guess? Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate!
Renowned Belgian DJ Dimitri Vegas did the music for Mortal Kombat 11’s launch trailer. Next week, developer NetherRealm Studios is releasing a Sub-Zero skin featuring Vegas’ likeness, which is great. It also features Vegas’ voice, and that’s not so great.
Mortal Kombat 11’s voice cast consists of proper professional voice actors with a firm handle on what they are doing (and also Ronda Rousey). So when someone like Dimitri Vegas lends his pipes to a character—especially one whose lines are already voiced by the incomparable Steve Blum—the difference in quality is jarring. While Dimitri Zero, as fans are calling him, is not live in the game yet, his files are already in place, so modders have been able to share his unique spin on the dialogue. Have a listen, courtesy of Gamer XL on Facebook.
It’s not that Vegas is not trying. He sounds like he’s having fun with it, at least. He’s just not trained for this sort of thing, so the results sound, as one Redditor put it, “like a low budget anime dub.”
Mortal Kombat Reddit is having a lot of fun with the Vegas skin and voice. Some say it’s horrible. Others are looking forward to deploying the skin as a sign of disrespect to their opponents. There are also fans who don’t mind Vegas’ delivery, bless their souls. Then there are those who say it really just sounds like a Belgian DJ trying to play a ninja warrior who speaks English. Personally, I think that’s exactly what it sounds like.
Longer YouTube video comparisons, like the one featured by Eurogamer earlier today, have been copyright claimed into oblivion. Expect the floodgates to open wide on August 22 when the free Dimitri Vegas Sub-Zero skin is officially released.
“Kombat League” is an all-new seasonal ranked mode in which players compete over the course of four weeks to earn exclusive in-game items. Teased in Mortal Kombat 11’s multiplayer menu since the game launched in late April, the first Kombat League season starts *checks watch* tomorrow. Oh dear.
Each Kombat League season will see players fighting ranked matches against similarly-skilled opponents, progressing through nine tiers, beginning with Apprentice and ending with Elder God. At the end of the four week competition, players will earn cosmetic rewards based on the highest rank they achieved during the season, so once they reach Elder God they can nap for the rest of the event without fear of missing out on cool garb. Players can also win rewards by completing both daily and season missions, like spilling a certain amount of blood during the event.
Yes, blood. Each Kombat League event will be themed, and the first one is called the “Season of Blood”. Advancing through the ranks in this season will earn players special skins that are black, white and red all over.
The Season of Blood event starts tomorrow, June 18, which is also when Kombat Pack 1 owners get early access to Shang Tsung. Coincidence? Probably.
Powerful sorcerer, vile betrayer and all-around not nice guy, Shang Tsung returns in Mortal Kombat 11 as a downloadable fighter. Sporting both the voice and the look of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the actor who famously portrayed him in 1995’s Mortal Kombat movie, this version of Shang Tsung’s got the moves and magic to make him a formidable foe. There’s both an older and a younger looking version of the character, as well. Yesterday’s Kombat Kast stream dropped these and other fresh details on the menacing magician.
According to lore delivered by Netherream’s Stephanie Brownback during the Kombat Kast presentation, Shang Tsung isn’t technically a new addition to Mortal Kombat 11. When the villain Kronika pulled kombatants from the past into the present, Shang Tsung was there. Knowing Shang Tsung’s rocky history with allies (he betrays everybody!), Kronika decided to lock him away for safekeeping. Now that Kronika’s been defeated, Shang Tsung is free to enter the fray once more.
Well, he’s not free, exactly. He’s part of the game’s first Kombat Pack, a season pass that gives players access to six new fighters over time. He is the first, to be followed by Mortal Kombat fan favorites Sindel and Nightwolf, guest character Spawn (voiced by the legendary Keith David) and two unannounced guests.
He’s missing a few wrinkles, but that’s nothing a few decades of aging can’t fix. Like many other time-tossed characters in the game, players can choose between young Shang Tsung, as seen in the Mortal Kombat movie, or an older, more wizened version.
Not bad for an old man. My Shang Tsung, however, will be sporting this awesome ensemble lifted straight from the film.
It’s not just the look at movie tie-ins that have me excited about Shang Tsung. Netherrealm has given the characters moves a strong magical focus. He still hits and kicks as per normal, but there’s a lot more fire and soul-draining going on. One of his moves involves summoning a wall of flame after reading a magical scroll. His basic throw does less damage than other characters but heals the sorcerer for the difference. He’s shaping up to be the most Shang Tsung ever. Now all we have to do is wait for Netherealm Studios to FINISH HIM.
On April 20, three days before Mortal Kombat 11‘s launch, a post on the Test Your Might fan forums detailed some early issues with the game. Problems cited included poor difficulty tuning in the game’s Towers of Time challenges and poor rewards for completing said challenges. There was also a punishing gear system requiring that players spend substantial time and in-game gold to augment equipment and randomized loot drops in the game’s Krypt, making earning character-specific skins, fatalities, and equipment more difficult.
Mortal Kombat 11 launched for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on April 23. Gaming sites, including this one, praised the game for its accessibility, phenomenal tutorial, and emotionally-charged story mode. Review site Metacritic was swamped with negative user reviews, many citing rampant monetization and microtransactions that, once again, do not exist. Other subjects touched on in negative user reviews include the desexualization of the game’s female characters and a perceived “SJW” agenda, illustrated by an arcade story ending in which the character Jax goes back in time to prevent slavery.
The Nintendo Switch and PC versions of Mortal Kombat 11 aren’t quite in sync with the Xbox One’s and PlayStation 4’s. While developer Netherrealm Studios focused on the PS4 and Xbox One, QLOC created the PC version and Shiver Entertainment handled the Switch port. This lead to inconsistencies between the versions at launch. Some moves worked differently in the PC version, and the Nintendo game launched without character-specific tutorials. Subsequent updates have brought all versions of the game more in line with one another.
On the day of the game’s launch, Netherrealm promised a patch to reduce the difficulty of the Towers of Time challenges and increase rewards for completing in-game goals, making unlocking new items in the Krypt easier. On April 26, publisher Warner Bros. released a road map covering upcoming patches and updates for all four versions of the game. The updates also rewarded early players for their patience, giving them a pile of in-game currency to help unlock items in the Krypt. Patches rolled out over the next couple of weeks, first to Xbox One and PS4, with Switch and PC straggling behind. The PC version got its most recent patch on May 14, reducing the requirements for completing character towers.
While it got off to a bumpy start, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be doing just fine.
Ronda Rousey: Trailblazer, UFC Hall of Famer, and WWE star. Ah, I forgot a couple of her accomplishments: She shared an inflammatory conspiracy video about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre to her millions of Twitter followers and made transmisogynistic and outright asinine comments about transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox. And as of Mortal Kombat 11, she’s the voice of iconic character Sonya Blade. Let’s take a moment to consider how messed up that is.
In 2013,Rousey shared a conspiracy video regarding the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives, including 20 children. The video suggested the massacre was a hoax carried out by the government. When called out about it, Rousey started by doubling down.
“I just figure asking questions and doing research is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you’re told,” she said in a reply on Twitter. The following day, she made another tweet saying that she “never meant to insult or hurt anyone” and that she was “sorry if anyone was offended.”
But it doesn’t stop at her sounding like a corporate bullshit apology bot. Take her comments regarding Fallon Fox. Fox is the first openly transgender MMA fighter in the sport’s history. She had undergone sex reassignment surgery in 2006 but received pushback against the idea that she could fight against other women. UFC president Dana White stated that he didn’t believe Fox should be allowed to fight other women. Former NFL defensive tackle and MMA fighter Matt Mitrione called Fox a “lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak,” and was later suspended for his comments. Through all this, Rousey declined to fight Fox, insisting that her fellow fighter would have a physical advantage in the ring.
“She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey told The New York Post. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair.” She also commented that she was glad the UFC didn’t “straight cut” Mitrione for his comments.
Thank the stars that Ronda got the pronouns right, I guess.
I didn’t write anything sooner because I thought that maybe I wouldn’t have to be the one writing this. As this piece was in the middle of being edited (I’ve been writing this over the course of two days) my peer Danielle Riendeau at Waypointpublished an article about Rousey’s involvement, which is heartening. Still, I wish it didn’t have to be queer folks speaking up. Where are our allies on this?
You know what I want to do? Play Mortal Kombat 11. But I would have to be wild to consider it. I’m not obligated to let bygones be bygones, and I’m just not going to. Rousey’s presence in Mortal Kombat 11 is unacceptable. Sonya could have been played by any number of capable actresses, but instead, NetherRealm stunt casted someone whose very presence makes many of my friends feel completely uncomfortable playing Mortal Kombat 11.
The Switch port of Mortal Kombat 11 plays like a champ but looks like jaggy ass. It’s pleasingly portable but incredibly finicky about its internet connection. I want the Switch version to be my go-to, but it keeps pushing me away.
As noted in my Mortal Kombat 11 review, I spent most of my time with Netherrealm Studios’ latest on the PlayStation 4. It’s the code the studio offered for my review copy, it’s the easiest version for me to capture for footage and screenshots, and the PlayStation 4 is in the living room, so my young children can wander in while I am playing and be traumatized for life. The PlayStation 4 version, along with the Xbox One version, was developed by Netherrealm directly, so it’s a good baseline for the game.
While Netherrealm worked on the PS4 and Xbox One versions, Miami-based Shiver Entertainment was working on the Switch version. It’s a semi-realtime port that is almost but not quite up-to-speed with the regular console version of Mortal Kombat 11. This slightly staggered development process might explain why the Switch release was delayed until May 10 in Europe, and why the North American version, released on April 23, was not feature complete on launch. One of my favorite features of Mortal Kombat 11, the character-specific tutorial lessons, were missing from the Switch version on its release day and got quietly added in over the weekend as part of a massive patch.
Performance-wise, the Switch version of Mortal Kombat is pretty amazing. The transition from pre-rendered cutscenes to gameplay may stutter, but once a match gets going, it nails that 60 frames per second target. Sacrifices were made to achieve that feat, of course. The visuals are fuzzy and jaggy. Draw distance is drastically reduced. Lighting effects are dialed way back, giving everything a slightly more drab appearance. This is all noticeable when I watch my gameplay footage, but I rarely notice these things during the heat of battle.
It does look bad, though. It looks like a tablet trying to emulate a console game, which given the Nintendo Switch’s relatively modest specs, isn’t that far off the mark. Between the game’s extreme violence and its demand on hardware, it’s amazing there’s a Nintendo port at all. But there is, and it plays quite well. That’s what matters.
The only time the graphical downgrade took a real toll was during the game’s Krypt, which is the vast, free-roaming adventure mode that serves as Mortal Kombat 11’s means of rewarding players with new skins, concept art, equipment and the like. The third-person action in this mode runs ridiculously poorly. The frame rate chugs. The draw distances are laughable.
Here’s a screenshot from the PC version of the Krypt.
And here is a shot from the same location on the Switch version.
That is some Nintendo 64 era fog in play.
Again, graphical compromise is to be expected on the Switch, and honestly, it doesn’t bother me too much. What truly gets me riled up about the Switch version of Mortal Kombat 11 is how this wonderfully portable version of a great fighting game is so tightly tethered to online servers. Like its PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 counterparts, Switch MK11 saves players’ progress and rewards to online servers. Winning battles, completing single-player towers, completing the story mode and even progressing through the game’s tutorial each require an online connection to be validated.
If a player disconnects while playing Mortal Kombat 11, they are warned that they will not earn rewards for progress until they are reconnected.
It’s not a huge issue when playing with an always online console. But the need to stay connected becomes a problem when playing on the Switch in portable mode, which is where I do most of my Switch game playing. For one, I can’t put the system into sleep mode, because it disconnects. If I am in the middle of going through a solo tower and I pause and put the Switch to sleep, I come back to a network error and get kicked back to the main menu.
What’s worse is once I disconnect, there is no easy way to reconnect. I’ve just been exiting out of the game completely and restarting it. This morning I found a workaround—trying to launch a local wireless match and then canceling it seems to get the game to connect to the internet again.
It’s little more than a mild frustration, but it does also go against the whole idea of having a game ported to the Switch. Sure, third-party games on the Switch might not be as pretty as they are on the Xbox One or PS4, but I can take them with me wherever I go and play hassle-free. That’s the idea, at least. That’s a little lost on Mortal Kombat 11.
Mortal Kombat 11 is getting slammed over its supposed equipment grind and the perceived greed of its microtransactions; user-submitted reviews on Steam and Metacritic have been poor. In these reviews, as well as in comments and on social media, fans have complained about the slow pace of earning rewards through gameplay and the randomness of rewards in the chest-strewn Krypt. Some say the unforgiving grind for coins and hearts and souls, the materials needed to unlock reward chests, seems like it is tailored to push players towards real money transactions as an alternative.
According to a popular post on the PlayStation 4 Reddit, it would cost $6,440 to purchase every skin in Mortal Kombat 11 with premium currency instead of winning them as challenge rewards or unlocking them in the game’s Krypt. This math adds up, in theory, but the facts don’t. You can’t use real money to unlock everything in Mortal Kombat 11. There is no convenient way to buy your way out of the grind.
As the game stands right now, yes, the grind is oppressive. This is a game in which every character has at least 60 different skins, including color variations. Every character has three different gear slots to fill. There are 30 different pieces of gear for each of those three slots. The slots themselves have to be unlocked; each separate piece of gear must be leveled up through gameplay in order to unlock said slots, which can be filled with collectible augments that enhance skills, offer resistance to certain damage types, or offer other unique benefits. If a player finds a new piece of equipment and swaps it with an existing one, they need to level it up all over again. It’s exhausting.
It doesn’t help that rewards are randomized in the game’s Krypt, Mortal Kombat’s third-person adventure side-game in which players can spend in-game currency to unlock treasure chests. Past games’ versions of the Krypt have all featured set treasure locations. A chest located at coordinates X and Y on the map would contain the same item for all players. In Mortal Kombat 11, the contents of basic chests—those opened using the game’s coin currency—are randomized for every player.
For example, in the PC version of the game, I opened a chest that cost 13,550 coins. I received an augment for a piece of gear, a Cassie Cage skin, and a “Kobat Kard” background.
The same chest in the same location in my PlayStation 4 copy of the game cost only 2,550 coins and only contained a variation icon, which is a decal used to personalize a custom-created variation of the character Cetrion, whom I hardly play.
It bears noting that heart chests, which are special chests that require some of Mortal Kombat 11’s rarest in-game currency to open, are in fixed locations and have the same contents for everyone. Fans over at the Mortal Kombat Reddit page have already got them all mapped out. Most other items are random, though. Could be a skin, or a piece of equipment. Could be a brutality or fatality unlock. Could be random crap like crafting materials or consumable items used to make battles in the game’s Towers of Time mode. The chances of getting exactly the skin or gear I want feels so slim, that if I saw the item pop up in the game’s Premium Store, I’d probably jump at the chance to pay for it.
Back to the calculation from AccomplishedPoet8 on Reddit—that steep $6,440 figure. First, it’s actually a bit too low. It’s calculating 56 skins for 23 characters at $5 worth of premium currency, a.k.a. Time Krystals, apiece. But a 24th character, Frost, unlocks for everyone as they play through the story mode, so if you include that character, the number should be more like $6,720. It goes up to $7,000 for players who pre-ordered and received Shao Kahn as well.
More importantly, these large figures assume that every skin in the game can be purchased. That’s not how Mortal Kombat 11’s Premium Shop works. Every 24 hours (not the 6-8 hours suggested in the Reddit post), the store cycles through offering a series of five items: three skins, a piece of equipment, and a brutality. There are only three skins available in the store every 24 hours. If there are 56 skins for 24 characters (let’s just say you don’t have Shao Kahn), that’s a total of 1,344 skins. Assuming the store cycled through every available skin, three at a time per day, it would take 448 days to cycle through everything.
And that’s a big assumption. Responding to the $6,440 story circulating yesterday, game director and Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon tweeted the following:
So yes, purchasing every skin in the game with premium currency would cost thousands of dollars. But it’s not something that can be done. Time Krystals, the only of Mortal Kombat 11’s currencies that can be purchased with real money, can only be used towards the five rotating items in the Premium Shop or to purchase “easy fatality” tokens, the world’s most unnecessary shortcut. Time Krystals cannot unlock chests. They cannot level up a piece of equipment. They cannot unlock items directly from the character customization menu. They are incredibly limited.
So why all the fuss? Because due to the way the Krypt is randomized and the slow pace at which in-game rewards are doled out, Mortal Kombat 11 feels like a game that wants more money. The hurdles in the way of getting any specific skin or piece of equipment leave a very cash grabby mobile game type of taste in players’ mouths. Why else would shit be so complicated to get, if not for the publisher or developer to be planning to offer an easy (but more wallet-straining) alternative?
There is no easy alternative at the moment, but Netherrealm is working to make progression less painful. While the developer has yet to respond to our inquiries on the matter, in a Kombat Kast on Twitch yesterday, the developer announced an upcoming patch will adjust the rate at which in-game rewards get doled out in players’ favor. Along with the tweaks, each player will receive 500,000 coins, 1,000 souls, 500 hearts and 1,000 Time Krystals, giving each of them plenty of currency to help hunt for those must-have items.
Hopefully the extra currency and balance tweaks helps make Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt and progression feel more like fun and less like shady chores.
In keeping with series tradition, every character in Mortal Kombat 11 gets a unique ending sequence depicting what would happen if they won. This game’s big baddieis Kronika, a new villain with the power to control time. She’s got serious beef with thunder god and humanity’s pal Raiden, and she plans to do away with him by rebooting the timeline without him, which is very rude. Those who defeat her in the game’s Klassic Towers mode are granted mastery over time itself, free to reshape it as they see fit. Special forces cyborg soldier Jax’s ending, though, has helped spur a review bomb and a flurry of plaintive conversations across the internet. But it seems like people don’t actually know what happens in the ending, so we’re here to clear that up.
Jax uses his “what if?” scenario to go back in time and prevent slavery.
This is exactly the sort of situation I would expect to encounter in one of Mortal Kombat’s non-canon, hypothetical character endings. It’s a gigantic and loaded decision, but come on—this is a game where people punch each other’s heads off. At least four of the game’s characters—including Jax—were killed and reanimated by an evil sorcerer. It’s hard to take that seriously. But some fans seem to be doing just that—and they’re getting some things wrong in the process.
Mortal Kombat 11’s PlayStation 4 Metacritic user score, as of this writing, is at 2.7 out of 10 and falling. Site users are bombarding the game with negative reviews. Many claim the game is pushing an SJW (social justice warrior) agenda, giving female characters a stronger role in the game’s story and giving Jax his particular ending. Some reviewers have gone as far as calling the Jax ending “reverse racism”:
“The story and the ending for Jax is frank racism. “Black Power” … but yes, we are all blind and do not see reverse racism. I imagine if White Power would have done, how many accusations would there be against developers in racism. But when racism is on the part of blacks, that’s normal.”
“The story was excellent (when It comes to fighting game standards), gameplay is solid. However the game is heavily influenced by political views (that’s one thing that I hate the most when It comes to gaming or movies these days). “
“The guy goes back in time to end slavery of black people, but in MK universe, Shao Khan has been enslaving people of all skin colors for about a thousand years, but Jax only cares about freeing black people?”
All this to say, there’s a lot of buzz about what the ending actually does and doesn’t do, and a lot of misinformation along with it. So let’s talk about what the ending actually does.
“I’m lucky. My family and I lived the American dream. But most people who look like me haven’t had that chance. I owe it to them to put things right, and I’m not waiting centuries for people to get woke,” says Jax. As he speaks, an image of slaves in chains being led to ships dissolves in the sands of time, replaced by an image of two European men respectfully greeting African diplomats.
My immediate reaction to the ending was something along the lines of, “Oh, so we’re flipping a switch and ending racism?” But that’s not the case here. As the cutscene continues, Jax admits he doesn’t get it right the first, second or even third time. He puts in a lot of work. I am imagining him hopping back in time, making a small change, hopping forward, cursing loudly and then hopping back in time again, over and over. There is no mention of “black power.” There is no indication that, as one YouTube video suggests, developer Netherrealm Studios is promoting “white genocide.” There’s no evidence that Jax only stopped the transatlantic slave trade from happening, despite it spurring his decision.
The actual actions Jax took and their implications are hard to envision. But is it really farfetched to imagine a black man—or anyone else, really—given the power to rewrite time would use it to right one of history’s greatest wrongs and course correct a human failing that’s caused so much pain and strife over the centuries?
Maybe going back in time and fixing a few things isn’t the worst idea.
Everybody knows how punching and kicking work, but do you know what Frame Advantage is? How about how to perform a Frame Trap? If you get knocked down, do you know which defensive “Getup” moves to use to counter your opponent’s likely follow-up attack? Work your way through Mortal Kombat 11’s exhaustive tutorials and you’ll know all that and more.
I’ve been playing fighting games since there have been fighting games, but never so intensely that I’ve worried about things like how many fractions of a second it takes for my moves to start, deal damage, and recover. These are the sorts of things I imagine professional-level fighting game players worry about on a regular basis. I play against the computer, which is not exactly a challenging opponent. As long as I can string together some basic combos and block half the time, I’m good.
I might be a little better now that I’ve worked my way through Mortal Kombat 11’s vigorous tutorial gauntlet. It starts off simple enough. Movement and attacking. Blocking and throwing. Special moves. Basic combos. These are all things I know, but completing tutorial lessons rewards coins used to unlock treasure chests containing skins, fatalities, and other goodies in the game’s Krypt mode, so I continue.
Next we have advanced offense and defense. Canceling special moves, jump-in attacks, reversals, and more blocking techniques help round a player out. If you’re playing against the computer, these advanced techniques will come in handy. If you’re playing against a human opponent worth their salt, they are doubtlessly using them against you.
Then comes the Frame Data section. This is where it gets really deep, at least from my limited perspective. Here we learn about how moves literally tick. Each move has a beginning, middle and end. The beginning, known as its start-up, is how long an attack takes to execute. The middle is when the move is active and doing damage. The end is recovery, how many frames until the player is free to move again once an attack lands.
The tutorial lays all of this information out in a way that makes complete sense. Now I understand that an attack with a shorter start-up has an advantage over an attack with a longer one. From there I learned about hit advantage, which is how many frames an attacker can land faster than a defender upon execution of a move. Or attacks that are unsafe on block, which is when the defender will recover before the attacker should a move be blocked, giving them a chance to attack back. Now all the data that appears in the game’s pause-menu move list makes sense.
Knowledge of Frame Data leads to the final tier of tutorials. These teach players to build effective combos, utilize advantages when they appear, and apply pressure with blocks and attacks to take control of a match. We also learn about zoning, which is knowing where a specific character’s positional advantages lie and techniques for keeping an opponent at the proper distance.
All of this imparted knowledge culminates in the character-specific tutorials. Players can take each kombatant out for a spin, learning not only their signature moves, but how those moves work and what advantages they give. Check out Sub-Zero’s tutorial below to see what I mean.
Mortal Kombat 11’s tutorials have taught me so much. A lot of it is stuff I should have learned sooner, as a fighting game fan, but the information has never been presented so compellingly. Now I have a stronger working knowledge of how the game works, plus a shit-ton of coins to spend in the Krypt. Go me.